"In the first week of March, the DEI showed a sharper year-on-year drop than in the previous week," the central bank said in a statement.

This is the second consecutive week of deterioration of this new indicator, launched on 28 January by the BdP to "more easily" identify abrupt changes in economic activity and published weekly on Thursday with information until the preceding Sunday.

In its first edition, relative to the third week of January, the DEI pointed to "a marked deterioration" in economic activity after the beginning of the confinement decreed on 15 January, and then, for the following seven days, recorded "a year-on-year drop similar to that observed in the previous week".

In the first week of February, the BdP reported a "minor" year-on-year decline in the DEI compared with the previous week, and then noted for the following seven days a "slightly smaller" year-on-year drop.

This was followed by a stabilisation of the year-on-year fall in the third week of February, compared with the previous one, and a "sharper" year-on-year fall in the last week of February.

The DEI covers several dimensions correlated to economic activity in Portugal, summarising information on the following daily variables: road traffic of heavy commercial vehicles on motorways, electricity and natural gas consumption, cargo and mail landed at national airports and purchases made with cards in Portugal by residents and non-residents.

As the BdP explains, the use of this type of high-frequency data "intensified following the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic", as, given the "short lag" of their disclosure in relation to the reference period, they allow for "timely identification of sudden changes in economic activity".

However, he stressed that this indicator "does not constitute an official forecast by the Bank of Portugal or the Eurosystem.

The next DEI release date is scheduled for 18 March.